HomeForeignUS Congress Set To Pass Ukraine’s $60.8bn, Israel’s $26.4bn Aid Bill This...

US Congress Set To Pass Ukraine’s $60.8bn, Israel’s $26.4bn Aid Bill This Weekend

After months of delay, the US House of Representatives appears finally ready to hold a vote on tens of billions of dollars in American military aid for Ukraine and Israel this weekend.

Both measures have vocal opponents in Congress, however, and their hopes of passage have hinged on a fragile bipartisan coalition to overcome daunting procedural and legislative obstacles.

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson has said he is determined to bring the matter to a vote, even if it may put his hold on power in jeopardy.

The Ukraine vote will be closely watched in Kyiv, which has warned of an urgent need for fresh support from its allies as Russia makes steady gains on the battlefield.

The House is set to vote on final passage on Saturday, and the Senate may approve the package as soon as this weekend. President Joe Biden has pledged to sign it into law.

Mr Johnson’s foreign aid proposal provides $60.8bn (£49bn) to Ukraine, $26.4bn to Israel and $8.1bn to the Indo-Pacific region, including Taiwan. The House of Representatives will vote on each component individually, raising the possibility that some components will be approved and others will fail.

The Speaker is also bringing a fourth piece of legislation to a vote, which includes requiring that Chinese company ByteDance divest itself of the TikTok social media app, authorising the sale of frozen Russian assets, and imposing new sanctions on Russia, Iran and China.

Whatever passes will be combined into one bill that will then have to be approved as a whole by the Senate before it reaches the president’s desk.

Mr Johnson has also promised to introduce an immigration reform bill that contains provisions favoured by conservative Republicans in an attempt to win over their support for the aid package.

But the border bill looks unlikely to pass as it would require the support of two-thirds of the House, reports the Washington Post.

Opinion polls suggest that a growing number of Republicans oppose any new aid to Ukraine. Some liberals are against military support for Israel. While these sentiments were not enough to prevent the US Senate from passing legislation that contained support for both nations in February, it has been a different story in the House.

Mr Johnson has a slim majority in the chamber, and a handful of conservatives have threatened to push for his removal if he backs new Ukraine aid. The effort, led by Georgia congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, has two other supporters so far: Thomas Massie of Kentucky and Paul Gosar of Arizona.

Up until now, the Speaker has been reluctant to challenge his right-wing critics. On Wednesday, however, he reversed course, saying his goal was to “do the right thing and let the chips fall where they may”.

Meanwhile, left-wing Democrats who object to Israel’s conduct of the war in Gaza have said that they will not allow the US to continue to be complicit in a human-rights catastrophe. The Israel aid bill contains $9bn in humanitarian aid, which may help win over some reluctant Democrats.

By allowing separate votes on Israel and Ukraine aid, Mr Johnson hopes to allow individual legislators to vote against provisions they dislike without sinking the entire effort.

BBC

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